In the days following the release of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” much of the talk about the film’s content has revolved around something kept under wraps before its release – the computer-generated resurrection of old characters including Grand Moff Tarkin and a younger Princess Leia.
The choice was an odd one that hasn’t been without controversy. Rather than simply recast the role, like they’re doing with Han and Lando for the next ‘A Star Wars Story,’ or include a live-actor in make-up approximating Cushing like was briefly seen in the last of the prequels, they cast actors and then digitally replaced their faces with approximations of Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher’s appearances in the original.
Said approximations have received a mixed reaction – on the one hand acclaimed for being the best of this type of technology to date, on the other criticised for still not being ‘just right’ and thus in the uncanny valley.
In an interview with The New York Times today, several of the key crew members in the film have now spoken about that decision. First up producer Kiri Hart says the reason for the inclusion was that both characters were essential: “If he [Tarkin] is not in the movie, we’re going to have to explain why he’s not in the movie. This is kind of his thing.”
ILM CCO John Knoll adds that one alternate option was considered: “We did talk about Tarkin participating in conversations via hologram, or transferring that dialogue to other characters” while the final effect they did settle on he describes as a “super high-tech and labor-intensive version of doing make-up… it is extremely labor-intensive and expensive to do. I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner. We’re not planning on doing this digital re-creation extensively from now on. It just made sense for this particular movie.”
What about Leia, who isn’t as essential a part? Hart says: “To deliver on that moment of hopefulness, that is really underscored by the fact that you do get to see her face. That’s the best possible use of effects, to enhance the meaning and the emotion of the experience for the viewer.”
The pair talk more about the choices made in the full article.